A registered 32-year-old hemp farmer in Pelendri, Cyprus was among those arrested recently on cannabis charges. Cypriot media are reporting the farmer and another suspect was charged with a number of offenses at a remand hearing after two properties used to cultivate hemp under license were raided.
It’s reported that more than 120 plants were located by the authorities following days of surveillance. According to police, the THC levels in 18 samples taken were between 2.3 percent to 5.66 percent, rendering them illegal. In court, the lawyer for the farmer argued that the arrest was void as under the law for hemp cultivation, only officials from the Department of Agriculture may collect samples and not the police.
Police also found around 100kg of cannabis plant material in three separate storage facilities on the premises. The hemp farmer claimed in court it was material from a previous defective crop which was never sold.
Worker also arrested
A second suspect, a 36-year-old worker, was also charged in relation to the case. His lawyer said his client had been working on and off at the property and had no relation to the case. Police say they are seeking a third suspect, whom they believe is an associate of the hemp farmer. The drug squad said it had reason to believe the third man was treating the plants with chemicals to increase their THC yield.
The suspects face charges including, conspiracy to commit a crime, illegal cultivation of a Class B drug, illegal possession of narcotics, and possession with intent to sell a Class B drug. The two men were remanded in custody by Limassol District Court for six days, although the police had initially sought eight days.
Similar arrest in 2016
This is not the first time a Cypriot hemp farmer has been in the courts. In June 2016 the first licensed hemp farmer was jailed for importing 66 grams of what he claimed was hemp tea from the Czech Republic. Photis Andreou, a Crohn’s disease sufferer was jailed for five months by the Larnaca court after it rejected his claim that he used it to alleviate his symptoms. Testing showed the hemp had between 0.2 and 0.9 percent THC content, making it illegal. However, the charges were dropped a few months later and Andreou released.
Andreou was originally arrested in May 2015 along with others in a field full of hemp in Avgorou and around 1,600 plants were destroyed by the police. A number of individuals and the seed supplier were arrested and charged. Charges were later dropped after the farmers threatened to sue the government if their names were not cleared. They had a purchase certificate for the seeds and they also had a bill from Cyprus Agricultural Payments Organization for a lab analysis on the seeds. – Brian Houlihan